Can the US win the Iraq war?

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Bert
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Post by Bert » Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:51 am

ethopoeia wrote: As an example, the logic of the South African Apartheid regime, though being extremely violent, was not a war strictu sensu, but rather a colonisation of African lands by European settlers and all "Law and Order" policies allowing for white racist domination.
It started as a "Law and Order" policy alright but it did not start with the purpose of domination.
The Europeans settled in SA lived in relative peace with the "Bush people" well before the tribes like the Zulus and various Bantu tribes arrived on the scene.
After those tribes migration from the North and East the fighting started.
When SA became more industialized, the Zulus and Bantus etc tended to move to the cities for work and they stayed in the cities during the nights as well even if they did not have a dwelling there. This caused serious problems as can be well imagined. Having 50,000 people in a city of 10,000 is nothing to thumb your nose at.
That was the main cause for the policy to have proof of citizenship (of a particular city) if you wanted to stay in the city.
This policy turned into legalized racism which in turn fueled an even worse illegal racism.

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GlottalGreekGeek
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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Fri Aug 04, 2006 1:24 am

ethopoeia wrote: 1. I tend to see the conquest of the Americas (and Africa, Asia...) as a phaenomenon of colonisation rather than strict war, its main pattern being the creation of European settlements overseas
Perhaps in the big picture, but that included some pretty bloody wars too ... the Conquest of Mexico (which did not involve many European settlers, just European soldiers), the various Indian vs United States wars (the United States repeatedly broke the treaties it made with the Indians, so much so that many Americans, even those who saw Indians as inferior, felt that it was a mighty big blemish on their nation's honor), and there are probably some I don't know too much about. Arguably, the Spanish were helped by the various tribes which the Aztecs had oppressed, so *maybe* one could argue it was just, but from what I understand, the Spanish were as bad or worse than the Aztecs as masters.

Another example of an unjust war which was won, in my humble opinion, was the United States - Mexican war, which was strongly opposed by many Americans at the time (indeed, Thoreau refused to pay taxes for the war, which landed him in jail). An obscure congressman called Abraham Lincoln originally approved of the war, but when he learned more about what was going on, he claimed that Congress had been decieved by President Polk, and that the war was unjust. Basically, from what I know about the war, the United States wanted an excuse to grab land from Mexico, which is exactly what it did (1/3 of Mexico to be precise). It made land where slavery was illegal (Mexico) into land where slavery was legal and flourished (Southern United States). This actually caused the Civil War, but that's a digression from the topic at hand.

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Post by ThomasGR » Fri Aug 04, 2006 8:46 am

Just war vs. unjust war.

Excuse my bluntness, but there is no such thing as “justifiedâ€￾ war. All wars are unjust, or going to the opposite side, just. It depends who wins the war. Expressed in common wisdom, history is written by the winners. We speak nowadays about the just war of independence, but things would look quite different if the winner was the British Empire. Than history books would report this “justâ€￾ war as an unjustified rebellion of piggish peasants, which his majesty crushed down shedding tons of … justified blood. History is written this way, deforming the reality.

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ethopoeia
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Post by ethopoeia » Fri Aug 04, 2006 3:54 pm

Considering colonisation as "war" may be a solid argument after all. Under this viewpoint, colonisation would be an example of a successful unjust war and, therefore, the statement that no unjust war can be won would be false. However, following this reasoning, one could consider racism or class struggle as "war", what I consider inconsistent with historical facts.

The truth is that colonisation had less to do with the methods of state-led war than with individual conquest by pioneers (preemption, adelantazgo), accompanied by some typical manifestations of ethnic cleansing (racism, deportations, treatment of natives as wild game). These methods are well documented, for example, in the Cherokee Trail of Tears and the Long Walk of the Navajo, or the reclusion of natives in controlled areas, be they called reservations, homelands, encomiendas or ghettos.

As far as I know, neither America nor Spain ever declared war on Indians.

On the other hand, you have a point as well that the notion of "justice" -as the very notion of war- is mutable. What is just today may be unjust tomorrow. However, in today's globalised world, it is increasingly difficult for democracies to wage war against the will of their people and global public opinion, especially without an apparent justification, because it inevitably leads to political isolation.

In the case of Iraq, it is difficult to adventure the outcome of the war, but you don't need to be an expert to see that, after leaving a devastated country drown in blood, all America can do is lose its credit as a peacekeeping power.

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edonnelly
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Post by edonnelly » Fri Aug 04, 2006 4:36 pm

ethopoeia wrote:On the other hand, you have a point as well that the notion of "justice" -as the very notion of war- is mutable. What is just today may be unjust tomorrow.
Shouldn't the same caveat apply when trying to apply 21st-century notions of what is "just" to actions that occurred centuries ago?
The lists:
G'Oogle and the Internet Pharrchive - 1100 or so free Latin and Greek books.
DownLOEBables - Free books from the Loeb Classical Library

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ethopoeia
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Post by ethopoeia » Fri Aug 04, 2006 5:41 pm

edonnelly wrote:
ethopoeia wrote:On the other hand, you have a point as well that the notion of "justice" -as the very notion of war- is mutable. What is just today may be unjust tomorrow.
Shouldn't the same caveat apply when trying to apply 21st-century notions of what is "just" to actions that occurred centuries ago?
Absolutely true, we can't apply contemporary moral values retrospectively.

However, we can apply them prospectively -an unjust action today remains also unjust in the future.

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IreneY
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Post by IreneY » Fri Aug 04, 2006 7:25 pm

ethopoeia I am one of those who firmly believe that the was on Iraq was unjust.

However,
a) Perhaps you should modify the definition of "unjust" you gave before because Romans i.e. had to right to really wage war on Greece and they really trully won that one. And this was a war by all definitions. They wipped our behinds really badly. And it wasn't moral even then. That's why they (and us in the past) always looked for an excuse.

b) Are we talking in general? Are we discussin if any unjust (by any definition) war can be won or are we talking specifically about the war on Iraq?

Because, should the US i.e. decided to attack -unjustly- i.e. Greece do you really think that they wouldn't win? Yes they would. We's surrender. That's the end of the official war (since we are talking about declarations we should also talk about surrender). The guerilla fighting afterwards is another issue, not part of the officially declared war.

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ethopoeia
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Post by ethopoeia » Fri Aug 04, 2006 11:11 pm



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IreneY
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Post by IreneY » Fri Aug 04, 2006 11:56 pm

ethopoeia ok, let's be more accurate then (I wasn't been accurate I know). Macedonia then. Or better yet forget Greek city states etc. Let's go to the other Roman wars.

We wouldn't let them get our oil per se. It's more a case of them getting it without our consent. :)

P.S. Too tired to think in proper English (or even proper Greek to tell you the truth) right now

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GlottalGreekGeek
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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Sat Aug 05, 2006 1:21 am

The U.S.-Mexican war was an officially declared war, and had an equally official peace treaty (albeit one rammed down Mexico's throat). And it was considered unjust by people from that time - that's why I cited Thoreau and Lincoln, though Lincoln is probably the better representative. Lincoln's speech on the Mexican war is actually a good source of info if you want to know more details. Texas was (mostly) under U.S. control at the time, and the Mexican territory captured in the war had few Anglo-American settlers. Some people cite the U.S.-Mexican war as the start of United States imperialism (actually, I think it started before then, but that's off topic).

I actually know quite a bit about the U.S.-Mexican war because I participated in not one, but two mock-impeachment trials of President Polk, who was President during the Mexican war, and I sat in for part of a third trial.

Now, on the Iraq war, I don't have a strong position, largely because I am skeptical about all information I see/hear about the war. I'm not there, ergo I don't know. However, based on what I have seen/heard, it seems that there is a civil war breaking out, not the U.S. oppressing the locals (but as I said, I'm not there, so I don't know). If the U.S. can do something to prevent the civil war which it started, then I think it is our responsibility. If not, we should stop messing things up. That said, I don't think we should have gone there without U.N. cooperation, and I don't think Bush is a good enough commander in chief to pull it off. If those conditions were different, I don't know how I would feel about the Iraq war.

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